montana-secret-santaTitle:  Montana Secret Santa
Series:  Love At The Chocolate Shop #3
Author:  Debra Salonen
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Published:  December 1, 2016
Publisher:  Tule Publishing
My Rating:  5 stars
Source:  NetGalley
Cover Description:

Ad exec Krista Martin, while feeling more Grinch than elf, still jumps at the chance to co-chair Marietta’s Secret Santa Society. Why not? Especially since brilliant, attractive, and innovative tech wunderkind Jonah Andrews has agreed to help. He’s well connected and Krista’s hoping for some advice on rebooting her career.

Jonah knows Krista has a not-so-hidden agenda, but sparring with her over cocoa at their Secret Santa meetings is the most fun he’s had since returning to his old hometown. Krista may come across as all business, but Jonah’s positive he’s glimpsed a little girl inside her who wants to believe in Santa… and in love.

Titles in the Love At The Chocolate Shop series include:  Melt My Heart, CowboyA Thankful HeartMontana Secret SantaThe Chocolate CureThe Valentine Quest – Charmed by Chocolate – The Chocolate Comeback

This particular story also has a connection to Debra Salonen’s Big Sky Mavericks series which includes:  Montana Cowgirl – Montana Cowboy – Montana Darling – Montana Maverick – Montana Hero – Montana Rogue – Montana Rebel

Take one feisty former New Yorker with a family full of actors and enough drama to begin their own tv series, have this lovely lady be used by a man who says he wants to marry her but really only wants a part in her mother’s next movie then walks away when that didn’t happen, mix in a best friend to start up a new business with far from the drama of family life then stir with some rambunctious dogs, one handsome genius  and let simmer over holiday cheer, mainly sinfully delicious hot chocolate, and Secret Santa projects… what do you get?  A delightful, funny, sad, heartbreaking, eye opening Christmas romance in Marietta, Montana where everyone knows your name and your business., but where everyone also has your back.

On this fateful morning, Krista is deep in thought on how to tell her partner in Big Sky Promotions and her best friend, Amanda that since she’s gotten married her part of the business has been well.. slacking.  It’s not going to be an easy conversation and Krista is in thought mode as she exits the chocolate shop with her delicious, fortifying hot coco… and gets tangled up in a dog leash and saved from a serious fall by a handsome man.  Fate is a strange beast.  As it turns out, this stranger and Krista will be co-presidents of the Secret Santa project soon since Amanda, who is on that board, has an interesting announcement to make.  Totally not what Krista wants to do, she’s got enough Christmas drama with her own family, let alone take on such a huge commitment.  But as she’ll soon find out there are definite perks to be had taking par in this Secret Santa project, and Jonah might be the best one of all.

Jonah is a genius, an inventor, a dabbler and has recently sold his company for more zeroes than the national debt.  He’s free at the moment, having recently been sued by a former girlfriend for not paying her enough attention… yeah, right.  He’s returned home to Marietta for Christmas, to watch over his parent’s home and dogs while they head to his sister’s in Florida to help her deal with a tragic event.  Somehow, thanks to mom and dad, he ends up being the new president of the Secret Santa project and quickly sees the chance to spend time with the lovely lady his pups knocked down by making Krista a co-president along side him.  Who knows what could happen, but he’s open to suggestions.

I absolutely loved Montana Secret Santa.  It’s the type of lighthearted romance with some serious touches that I’ve come to expect from Debra Salonen and she always delivers.  Krista and Jonah have both been burned by past relationships.  She was used to get a movie part, he was sued for being distracted by an invention.  So while they may not be looking for anything but temporary, the fact is that the attraction is strong and only grows more so as they get to know each other through the Secret Santa projects they are working on.

As their relationship takes a serious turn, family will play a part in what happens next.  One family member will be sure to point out all the negatives, the other’s numerous family members are descending on Marietta in hopes of a grand gesture Christmas that will have a very serious announcement at it’s closing.  Jonah makes a decision to step out of the picture for the moment and let Krista have her family moments, since she seems to hesitate to have him included.  That’s not what she wants at all, but he’s made the plans and she won’t stop him.  Talk about miscommunication all around..  Yet, it’s also understandable.  They are so new as a couple, they barely have time to think before family takes over everything.

When the dust settles, when the true reasons things happened are revealed this couple will end up closer than ever before.  Life happens, and you either go with it or get out of its way.  Krista and Jonah made their own future in their own unique way.

I would recommend Montana Secret Santa to any Romance reader no  matter the genre.  A realistic, believable couple, a lovely hometown Christmas and the craziness that makes family… well, family.  It all comes together in a lovely Christmas package that I’m certain you’d enjoy.  I know I did.

*I received an e-ARC of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley. That does not change what I think of this novel. It is my choice to leave a review giving my personal opinion about this story.*

Available for the Kindle